A new Tory grassroots campaign which aims to copy the success of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s Momentum by luring young people into Conservatism has been met with a wave of social media sarcasm and derision.
Activate_uk_net, which has now rebranded to Activate UK in a bid to make its Twitter handle catchier for a young audience, aims to “engage young people with conservatism”.
It launched on Twitter with a picture of Corbyn alongside the iconic “it’s a trap” catchphrase of ‘Star Wars’ character Admiral Ackbar. The first tweet also literally included the term ‘#meme’. But Activate’s attempt at using social media backfired.
Agree it’s appalling. Its name is also open to caricature as @GuidoFawkes has pointed out, with “De-Activate” – mine would be”ActiveHate”.
— Riccardo Giovannelli (@Riccardo_Giovan) August 29, 2017
Watching the Tories trying to be digitially savvy is like reading a text message off your auntie who types like she’s still in 2006.
— Eve (@insinerated) August 29, 2017
Others called into question the efficacy of the meme and said:
If you’re happy to reuse a meme attributed to the alt-right, then go for it. Doubt it will help your image though
— Nightfrog (@OLI170) August 29, 2017
Comments include one user describing the Activate campaign as so hilarious he has not laughed so much since the death of ‘Maggie’- a reference to former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
Activates initial Twitter description read:
“We are tories and we love memes.“Have you seen Grumpy Cat?”
“Oh wow, that’s funny. Please show this “twitter” to all your young friends that don’t wear hoodies.”
But it has now changed its bio to a simple bullet-point description calling on people to join and get in touch.
Although the group is supported by senior party activists and chaired by Gary Markwell, a former Tory campaign manager and councillor in West Sussex, a Conservative spokesman told the Guardian that Activate is “not officially linked to the Conservatives and it receives no party funding.” Activate, however, still expects its followers to be Tory members.
Activate acknowledges on its website that it is a reproduction of Momentum, whose young members played a crucial role in Corbyn’s unexpectedly strong showing during the general election last June. In fact, a YouGov poll revealed that among first-time voters (18-19 year olds), Labour was 47 percentage points ahead in the polls.
A Momentum source said they are “flattered” that the Tories used it as a model to engage young voters, but said they would not be surprised if Activate’s “rookie errors” would cause it to “deactivate” soon.
“If they had really learned lessons from our viral social media content they would know they don’t have to use the hashtags #meme and #retweet with every graphic they share,” the source said, according to the Guardian.
“And if they are as committed to a ‘modern’ Conservative party as they say, maybe they shouldn’t have picked an all-male national committee. We wouldn’t be surprised if Activate deactivates in the near future.”